English department axes UW20 prerequisite rule

Students no longer need to take an introductory writing program course before enrolling in other English classes, the English department announced earlier this month.

Although all freshmen will still be required to take a University writing 20 course in their first year, as well as two writing in discipline courses by the time they graduate, students will no longer have to take a UW 20 before they can enroll in other English courses at GW.

UW 20 is a writing-intensive critical thinking class, and WID classes provide a writing component in specific content areas.

This is the first year that all freshmen are required to take a University writing program course, but Mark Mullen, GW director of first-year writing, said the change had nothing to do with problems within the program itself.

Previously, freshmen who were required to take a UW20 course were unable to enroll in other English courses before the UW20’s completion. The change would allow freshmen taking UW20 in the fall to take other English courses concurrently, and freshmen taking UW20 the spring would no longer be prohibited from taking other English classes in the fall.

“There have been no changes to the UW course itself,” Mullen said. “It simply opened students up to a greater variety of English classes earlier in their academic career.”

Faye Moskowitz, chair of the English department, said the change in the perquisite requirement was designed to make it easier for students to get credit for other English courses in their first year at GW. The change would be particularly beneficial to English majors.

“It is one less obstacle students face when trying to move right into their declared major courses,” she said.

Mullen added that he has not heard any complaints from students about the University writing program that would make him think about changing the program itself.

“There is definitely positive feedback from students on the end of semester evaluations,” Mullen said. “It has proved valuable in developing research skills as well as basic writing skills.”

Chris Sten, director of the writing in disciplines courses, said freshmen would still have to wait to complete their UW20 course before they can take the upper-level writing in discipline courses.

“Students still need to understand that, one, UW20 is a freshmen requirement and, two, that it will help in the writing-intensive WID classes,” he said.

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